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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Brown, Dan: Digital Fortress | Main | Fforde, Jasper: Lost in a Good Book »

Griesemer, John: Signal and Noise

  

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Picador © 2003, 640 pages [amazon]
4 stars

Signal and Noise is a sprawling novel that follows the lives of a handful of characters for roughly a decade during the mid-19th century. All of the figures on whom Griesemer focuses are somehow involved, whether directly or indirectly, in the various attempts made during that period to lay the first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. The book's principal character, to the extent that it has one, is Chester Ludlow, the chief engineer of the Atlantic Cable Company and the genius behind the paying-out mechanism that will, it is hoped, prevent the cable from breaking while it is unspooling. Chester's wife Franny, still grieving from the accidental death of their young daughter, and his fragile brother Otis are also central to the story. The Ludlows and their fellow characters drift into and out of one another's lives over the course of the story, and into and out of the narrative, in a pleasantly realistic way.

The book's principal character, to the extent that it has one, is Chester Ludlow, the chief engineer of the Atlantic Cable Company and the genius behind the paying-out mechanism that will, it is hoped, prevent the cable from breaking while it is unspooling.Griesemer's book, nearly 600 pages long, covers a lot of ground--not only the cable and the wave of progress of which it was a part, but also the Civil War and Lincoln's assassination, spiritualism, the stinking sewers of London, and the building of the world's largest ship (at the time), the Great Eastern (one of the "Wonders of the Industrial World"). The book is a historical narrative, but it is not at all clear from the text how historically accurate it is, or which of the characters if any were historical figures. An author's note ought to be added to clarify matters. (For a brief article on the laying of the cable, see http://www.history-magazine.com/cable.html.)

Griesemer's novel, ranked here as a 4-star book, more accurately hovers somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4--that is, between "very good" and "great." The book is not enthralling, or at least not obviously so. Indeed, it is downright slow at times. Yet perhaps two-thirds of the way through it becomes clear that the author has created a world, or described a world, that will have staying power in your imagination. The book does not demand your attention in the way that a thriller does, but it does, by the end, have a claim on you.

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.